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New Group Joins Call For Moratorium on Fish Farm Expansion

by Ellen Hardy
02 July 2008, at 1:00am

CHILE - A group from the town of Puerto Natales in Patagonia has called for a moratorium on the southward expansion of the fish farming industry in Chile because of concerns following the recent discovery of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) in Magallanes (Region XII).

The has sparked growing local opposition to Chile’s struggling farmed salmon and trout industry, which looks to expand heavily into the far southern region.

The group of mostly tourism and local fishing industry representatives from Puerto Natales, a small city of some 20,000 residents, launched the Patagonia without Salmon Farms Social Coordinating Committee (CSPSS), according to reports in the Patagonia Times.

The CSPSS has joined other organisation such as Fundacion Terram, Oxfam Chile and the National Confederation of Artisan Fishermen in demanding that the government cease issuing new aquaculture concessions.

"We've seen what happened when the salmon companies were given free reign to set up shop in Regions X and XI. And that's what worries us. We don't want what happened there to be repeated here in our region," CSPSS member Romano Totoro told the Patagonia Times.

Snr Totoro and other CSPSS members, among them representatives from the Puerto Natales Association of Indigenous Artisan Fishers, the Puerto Natales Artisan Fishing Women’s Group and the Association of Ultima Esperanza Guides, fear salmon farms will pollute the area’s waters and thus spoil the local fishing and tourism industries, on which the city depends heavily, the Patagonia Times says.

Puerto Natales, located on Ultima Esperanza Sound, is the primary jumping off point for visitors to Chiles world famous Torres del Paine National Park.

"Something that hasn't been touched on much is the fact that the waterways down here, the channels, bays and sounds, are very intricate. The water gets flushed out by the tides very slowly, so that whatever virus, antibiotic or pesticide is introduced into the water sticks around that much longer. That's something that really worries us," added Snr Totoro.

View the Patagonia Times story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy